Jose Mourinho has never won a league game at St. James’ Park and that run continued on Sunday as Newcastle beat Manchester United 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Matt Ritchie.
Considering the reverse fixture at Old Trafford ended 4-1, Rafa Benitez fired his team up before the match on Sunday to ensure a similar performance wasn’t on show for the home fans.
The ‘Magpies’ started as the livelier team , enjoying the majority of possession and chances in the opening ten minutes. Jonjo Shelvey forced a great save from David De Gea early on after his powerful shot from outside-the-box was deflected.
In the opposing goal, Martin Dubravka, who was brought to the North East temporarily from Sparta Prague in January, was impressive on his debut as he kept Jose Mourinho’s side at bay during the first half despite the ‘Red Devils’ growing into the game.
Alexis Sanchez was the visitors’ most creative threat up front , dazzling the Newcastle defence with his runs but their best chance would fall to Jesse Lingard in the 32nd minute. The England international hit a long shot after being set up by his Chilean team-mate, which needed a full-stretch save from Dubravka to deny the winger.
As the game ran toward the first-half whistle, more fouls started to creep into both sides’ play and the home side could rightly believe that they should have been awarded a penalty. Chris Smalling caught Dwight Gayle in the corner of the 18-yard box but referee Craig Pawson disagreed as he waved play on.
Pawson would blow for the end to the first 45 minutes soon after with the score goalless. Going into the break, Benitez would have been the happier of the two managers as his players refused to shy away from the task ahead.
- Newcastle up to the challenge -
However, United would start the second half stronger and had a goal disallowed in the 53rd minute. Romelu Lukaku comfortably headed home for the ‘Red Devils’ but it didn’t count as both the Belgian and Smalling committed fouls in the build-up .
The visitors would rue their ill-discipline
though as Newcastle took a shock lead
ten minutes later through a set-piece after Smalling gave away a free-kick from about 30-yard out for diving.
Florian Lejeune nodded the ball down to Dwight Gayle, who did brilliantly to keep the chance alive by flicking it into the path of Ritchie. The Scot then slotted home a low shot with his left foot to beat De Gea in front of the home fans.
Mourinho tried to change the momentum by replacing Paul Pogba and Lingard with Michael Carrick and Juan Mata but it would eventually be to no avail as United failed to get past Dubravka, despite Anthony Martial coming close near the death.
Newcastle managed to hold on through sheer determination and a bit of last-ditch defending to deservedly secure a
massive three points at home. The victory means that the 'Magpies' move up to 13th but are still only two points ahead of Southampton in the relegation zone, who play Liverpool in the later fixture.
As for United, they invite pressure from the chasing pack as they are now only four points ahead of Tottenham in third and the gap could close even further if Jurgen Klopp's side or Chelsea manage to win their respective games.